We were invited to a cook-out at our neighbor’s house today. She’s an older lady, I think her oldest daughter is about our age and her youngest in his early to mid 20’s. She was planning for twenty or so people. Nothing for us to bring except our good company. Appetizers at one-ish and burgers and brats around two. It sounded like something out of a childhood long since past.
I mean, not my childhood. We were apartment people. We purposely saw as little of our neighbors as possible because we heard and smelled them so often, we already felt like we lived with them. Plus, grills aren’t exactly encouraged on the third story. This whole neighborhood community thing is a bit odd for me. Growing up in Southern California, my mother rarely encouraged me to make eye contact with our neighbors, much less actual conversation.
I smiled and was rather non-commital. Not that we had anything planned for today. My husband was enthusiastic. This was his childhood. He lived in the same house from the time he was 3 until he moved away to college. I lived in more apartments than I can count (and one house we rented briefly that seemed like a mansion to me, and that I based my dream house on for a 9th grade Spanish project). He not only knows all of his old neighbor’s names, but has lots of stories about them. And not just the people on either side of him. Heck, he knew the entire block. I can only remember about half a dozen neighbors and aside from Glenda, who became my best friend from grades 2-8, despite moving away from her after two years, I couldn’t tell you any of their last names. Heck, only two of them were even friends of mine. The others I rememeber because they played with my sister. I don’t remember any of the adults except for Glenda, Dawn and Holly’s moms. And even then, I only know one last name.
To appease my husband and in honor of the great spirit of neighborhood’s past, we went. I was excited that my son wasn’t the only little one there. There were two other little boys, Dom and Jerry (and I swear I thought she said Tom and Jerry at first and I had to control my giggling), ages 2 and 3. They had little shaved blond heads. Their mother smiled, a cigarette dangling from her lips. She had on a very large white t-shirt over what I think were supposed to be capri pants. Unfortunately they were those strange stretchy pant capri material that only seems to come in violent shades of pink, orange, greens and purples. Hers were pink.
She was introduced as our host’s sister-in-law. She must have taken an immediate liking to me, because within five minutes she decided we needed to share our stories of child birth. It started innocently enough. She asked how much my son weighed at birth. She then proceeded to give me her children’s birth weights, all five of them. The first, her smallest, was with his daddy. The second, her second smallest, was also with his daddy. I got the distinct impression they weren’t at the same place. Her third child, who was only a year older than little Jerry, was her smallest at only 6 lbs. 9 oz, but she assured me she is tall. Oh, and mixed. Then she got to little Jerry. Who apparently was not little. Not the biggest. No, that was Dom, and boy did she bleed with him. Yes, that’s right, just like a stuck pig.
Dom, or Gigantor as I like to call him, weighed in at 9 lbs. 6 oz and he was the only one who didn’t tear her. Amazing, huh? Especially since he was 100% natural. Heck, aside from the first one, they all were. Yup, she’d always intended for them to be natural. She wasn’t really ready for the first one though. She attributed the drugs to being 18 and too scared to say no. The rest though, they were natural. Hurt like a motherfucker, but she didn’t have an epidural. No sir.
And let me just say, so freakin’ what? I don’t know what is with this new trend of women who somehow think they are superior because they went through the wonders of birth without the help of drugs. To me, it’s not a badge of honor, but an obvious sign of stupidity. Birth hurts. Epidurals and spinal blocks make them not hurt nearly as much. The don’t hurt the baby. Medical science has evolved. They have found away to make birth an experience I not only remember, but remember positively. And, am actually not terrified to have happen again. My aunt didn’t have drugs with my cousin, and ya know what? She never had another one. Know why? That’s right…she didn’t have drugs and it hurt too damn much.
My new friend asked me how long my labor was. I told her 20 minutes. She was shocked I had time for an epidural (she asked, so I told), since her second one shot out not five minutes after she got to the hospital. I had to have one (actually it was a spinal block) because I had a C-section. She kind of looked down her nose at me and told me she never wanted a C-section. I hadn’t either, but I didn’t have a choice. Why? Was he breach? No. Late? No. Not breathing? No. I could tell the questions were going to keep coming, so I quickly and quietly mentioned I’d had a previous surgery. She agreed that was terrible, but I could tell she thought herself superior for enduring the birth of her children without any sort of drugs.
So what if I want an epidural? It’s just like the damn breastfeeding thing. People get up on their high horses as if they are somehow superior because they were able to have a child without any assistance. Or at least that’s what they imply. You’d think there wasn’t a doctor there. I’m surprised some of these women even bothered going to the hospital. Let’s ignore the fact that thanks to advances in medicine we have the lowest infant mortality rate ever (at least here in the U.S.). Instead it is better to shun those advances and revel in the fact that they were able to give birth naturally. Unselfishly. Purely.
After carrying around my son for nine months, having to pee every ten minutes, nearly passing out because my sugar and protein weren’t balancing out, not being able to sit, stand or lay without excruciating pain every time I tried to move from one position to the other (he was sitting on a nerve–for the entire last trimester), or being able to do any sort of real exercise/lifting/anything because of a previa, not to mention the swollen everything, the roller coaster emotions and the random nausea, I think I deserve to be just a little “selfish” and have the miracle of birth hurt a bit less. It’s not like the gaping hole they had to sew up didn’t ache as soon as the block wore off. Try getting out of bed, laughing or even going to the bathroom after a C-section. Heck, try getting out of bed and walking. Plus, in addition to the adorable little boy I got to take home, I also have a lovely scar from one side of my belly to the other. Good thing bikinis have never been a part of my future.
So forgive me if I needed, no, I don’t want any misunderstanding here, wanted, no,demanded drugs. Life is full of more than enough pain. It’s not brave or selfless to forgo the pain meds. In this day and age it’s just stupidity and really wierd, backward snobbery.